When socializing goes mainstream

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What’s a tweetup you ask?  Why would you tweet something up?  Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and greet with dozens of the Bay Area’s finest, bloggers and wine professionals, as well as just some very cool people at the The Napa Valley Tweetup – Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery. Earlier in the day, the Social Media Seminar provided an in depth look at how social media is changing the wine industry, and how users are becoming more engaged via blogs and other social media platforms.  Then it was time to have some fun!  Hidden int he stunning To Kalon Cellar, with it’s giant redwood tanks and awe inspiring barrel cellar, the in crowd assembled to taste Mondavi’s wines and mingle over a social media cocktail.  In the rather cavernous dungeon, we were greeted by Gabriel Carrejo, who is the cheerleader behind many digital media tweetups and networking events. Once inside, atop the catwalk above those giant redwood fermentation tanks, there were stations set up with each of the wines, where we were instructed to check in on FourSquare at east tasting station in the hopes that we might win some swag.  More importantly, the social locator allowed us to see who else might have been at the event, and seek out those individuals that we might want to meet, by nature of the geo locating tool.  Say what you might about tools like FourSquare – but for social location, networking, and impromptu meetups over a glass of wine, it is an invaluable tool. As I wandered from station to station, I saw many of my old friends, and was able to reconnect over a glass of wine.  In addition, it was a spectacular networking event as I met many more tweeters and industry insiders that were in attendance.  The benefit to events such as this are difficult to measure; however, on a personal level, having the ability to meet many people that I have not otherwise had the opportunity to do , and to revisit a winery that I have not been to in a while is invaluable.  Changing perception in this business can be challenging; too often, large wineries write people off if they are no longer repeat customers.  this is a poor business decision in a challenging economy, as EVERY old customer can be a new customer provided that the experience is a good one. Mondavi is one such winery that I have been underestimating.  Long ago, I was a frequent visitor and a fan.  Then I grew up, and started visiting smaller wineries, and other wineries, by passing the monolith as I cruised up 29.  On this night, I was shown the light, both in the warm welcome by the Mondavi staff, and in their willingness to embrace social media and us, the Mediaites, by providing an elegantly casual setting where social media users and curiosity seekers mingled, discuss business, blogs, twitter, and just have a good time, puts the Social back in to social media. […]

It’s Super! It’s Saintly! It’s LIVE!

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I am really excited to be co-hosting  St Supéry for Taste Live on July 11th.  Since St Supéry has been producing outstanding wines from their 1500+ acres in Napa Valley since the early 1980’s, and since I have written about them several times before here and here, I am really looking forward to this opportunity to taste them along with you on Twitter with several groups around the country, and hundreds on line. At  St Supéry, their wine making history stems from the Skalli family’s French roots, and Bordeaux varietals are the particular focus.  Additionally, St Supéry is well known for their Moscato and Chardonnay. We will have the opportunity to taste through the following delights and talk live the returning star winemaker, Michael Scholz. Scholz is a 6th generation family winemaker from Australia’s Barossa Valley, and has created the distinctive style that has made St. Supéry a landmark destination in Napa Valley.  He is new to Twitter, and will be answering questions about the wines for us as we taste. St. Supéry farms according to sustainable viticultural practices, including use of cover crops, estate composting, and natural predators.  On my recent adventure at the winery, Vineyard Manager Josh Anstey showed us how they do this, and walked us through their demonstration vineyard as well as thier practices. In 2008, Wine & Spirits Magazine named St. Supéry “Outstanding Winery of the Year”, and it really shows!  Their signature property, The Dollarhide vineyard, is an historic cattle and horse ranch nestled among the hills of Napa Valley.  It was here that Robert Skalli, the wineries founder, planted the Bordeaux grapes in the early 1980s, and developed the Rutherford estate property as the home of the winery and their first class Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. These are just a few of many reasons why you should join us for our tasting on July 11th!  We will be experiencing four superstar star wines: Moscato 2008 Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Virtu 2006 Cabernet 2004 If you are here in the San Francisco Bay Area,  head on down to the Jug Shop on Polk & Pacific, where you can taste live some of the winery crew.  For full details, you can visit their events page here. If you want to host your own Taste Live with St Supéry, you can find out how by going over to the website now! See you in the Twittersphere at 6pm PT on July 11th!   ____________________________ To learn more about Twitter Taste Live, click the logo! Google  

Bring on the BACON! Yes I said bacon.

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When the box first arrived in my mail room at the office, I was slightly scared that someone was playing a bad joke on me.  Or just didn’t like me very much.  Or I had really made it big in the wine blogging world. Why you ask?  Well, the box that I received was stamped, in large size letters, “Trinchero Family Estates”.  Now, for me, when I hear Trinchero, I either think of my friends parents and their dinner parties with Vera, or I think with shock and horror of the Sutter Home domination of the white zinfandel market.  To say I’m not a fan of the pink stuff is being too kind.  I hate it!  I abhor it!  It’s worse than Sunny Delight, a product that though is made of juice, tastes nothing like it.  So goes my thoughts of the wines of the Home. That said, the history of Sutter Home and therefore White Zinfandel, is a good one.  At a time when most vineyards were ripping out Zinfandel, which has now become American’s Hertiage Grape, Sutter Home and a handful of other wineries, kept hte vineyards by making sweet pink wine for the masses.  For that I give them kudos, as I really like a good RED (yes there really is only one) Zinfandel. Now, back to the story.  When I got the dreaded box back to my desk, I knew I couldn’t wait until I got home, and ripped it open right away.  WOW!  Was I happily surprised!  Inside, came a 4-pack of samples from the new Napa Valley winery, Napa Cellars.  Now, when I was asked if I wanted to try these wines, having never heard of them, I said of course.  I’d love to try a new winery.  This goes to show you, even this jaded fool can be swayed by good marketing efforts. So the first wine I opened from this lot was the 2006 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Syrah.  This is a winery exclusive, but you can find the tasting room int he same building as Foie a Deux, in Oakville.  The fruit was sourced from Carneros, which is a cooler climate for syrah and the first thing I noticed when I sipped the dark deep brooding wine was that it was classically cool climate.  This was not a hot Dry Creek fruit forward syrah.  A cool climate syrah takes longer to ripe, which gives it a longer hangtime, which producers a more intense wine. I found this a very rich and dark syrah, and was a bit difficult to drink at first.  I definitely suggest decanting this beast.  At first it had bittersweet chocolate notes, with currents and dried plums.  I also tasted smoked meats, which is why this is being posted on my Bacon Friday post!  There was a tasty bit of anise, and soy sauce – which normally your wouldn’t like in a wine, but here it fit in well.  There was a nice finish of black pepper and […]

St. Supery reigns supreme over Napa Valley

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Oh what a beautiful day!  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was off to Napa at the dreadfully early time of 10am.  At first I grumbled my way up 121, but as I enjoyed the mellow ride through the Carneros countryside, I realized, that I should be grateful that I live here and that I am able to attend the Blogger Summit at St Supery. When I arrived, I was greeted by my blogging buddies DrXeno, Shana, Russ, Lisa, Jim, and the ever late but still entertaining Brix Chicks (Janesta, Liza & Xandria).  As they poured the Sauvingnon Blanc, we meeted and greeted, until I was drawn by the sense of bacon.  Thank god!  The St. Supery team, and specifically Lesley Keffer Russel (@lesleykeffer) had kept close tabs on us on Twitter, and knew the power of the bacon upon bloggers.  Additionally, we had croissants of all flavors, and a quiche that was stunning. Once we were fed and happy, we meandered in to the front yard.  Ok, the vineyard, where Josh Antsey who had been up all night, guided us through the inner workings of vineyard management and the finer points of terroir in terms of the Napa Valley.  After our nature walk, we went upstairs to the tasting gallery, where we were treated to a tasting of their winery only exclusives, a rare treat. 2007 Semillion – this 100% semillion was a rare treat, with honey, apricots, crisp but still rich.  I tasted a lot of citrus fruit, specifically Meyer lemon.  It was very refreshing with a long lingering finish.  With only 30% new oak, this wine had a great balance of fruit, with a touch of spice.  Only 607 cases were made, so you better run out and get some!  $24 2006 Malbec – 75% Malbec 25% Cab Sav. Lots of plum and dusty blue fruit.  Malbec is a persnickety grape, and not very people grow it in the US.  It is prone to rot on the vine when it get wet, and can cause a lot of issues.  However, this was a lovely wine.  The addition of the Cab gives this fruit bomb a backbone, and the ripe cherries were touched with a hint of oak.  $40 2006 Cab Franc – 75% Cab Franc 14% Cab Sav 11% Merlot.  Lots of leather and tobacco.  Plums, dusty blackberries, and earth.  This wine was plush and soft, but still bold.  I enjoyed the dusting of cocoa at the end.  $50 2006 Rutherford Merlot – 93% Merlot 7% Cab Sav.  Blackberries, pepper, and purple!  Flavors of black cherry and baking spices.  I have really come to love merlot, and this is no exception.  $55 2006 Petite Verdot – 89% Petite Verdot 11% Cab Sav.  Chewy and rich, with lots of plum and cassis flavors.  This is a huge wine!  $50 2005 Rutherford Cab Sav – 87% Cab Sav 8% Petite Verdot 5% Merlot.  Classic Rutherford dust.  Dark plums, leather, smoked meats, cedar.  This is a […]

Hospitali-teed off!

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This weekend, I was fortunate enough to find myself in Napa, celebrating Lisa’s(@winedivergirl) housewarming.  Since I was staying the night, we had planned to go wine tasting the next day with our friend Brian from The Roger Smith Hotel (@bsimi), who was visiting from New York. When we got going on the rainy winter Sunday, we opted to start with some bubbles, so Lisa took us on over to Domaine Chandon.  Now, I know this winery well.  I have been there many times.  I buy their sparklers int he grocery store – a LOT.  As we pulled in to the winery, the river passing through the property was a bit wild, which really should have warned us of the impending visit.  As we walked through the retail store, several employees were milling about,  did greet us on entry.  As we made our way upstairs, we saw that while the tasting bar was hopping, it was not busy.  I did see immediately, that there were only 2 employees working the whole bar – which normally would not be surprising, but if you’ve seen this tasting bar, you can easily line up 25 people along the perimeter. Ok fine, so they were short staffed.  I thought, no problem, there is an opening at the bar, so we’ll side up and look at the menu, assuming the bartender will come by at some point.  And bartender is what they are – Chandon does not offer traditional tastings, but instead offers flights of 2 different sparkling levels, still wines, as well as champagne cocktails.  Having decided on our beverages, we tried to flag down one of the two staff members for assistance.  NO such luck.  We stood.  We waited.  We waited some more. 15 minutes in to this, we mutually decided to high tail it out of there.  Now I know that as an industry rep, a wine blogger, and a hotel beverage manager, we might have high expectations for customers service, but this was just RIDICULOUS.  To not even acknowledge our presence with a simple “I’ll be right with you” set me over the edge. What made this experience worse was that as we walked out, the Chatty Cathys in the retail shop didn’t even say goodbye, or why are you leaving, or anything.  They just ignored us. Meanwhile, as we headed over to micro winery Elizabeth Spencer, we were fuming.  Inside the tiny tasting room, ev erything about our day began to change.  We were greeted.  We were smiled at.  We were talked to.  Vanessa INTERACTED with us.  Once she found out we were tradespeople, she asked us about what we did.  She showed me a very cool iPhone app, and she talked to us about the wines.  This experience was so lovely, Lisa even joined the wine club!  I bought a bottle of syrah.  Oh and the wine was delicious! Feeling redeemed, we even ventured over to Rubicon Estate.  Known for it’s outrageous tasting fees but beautiful grounds, we were at […]

I am a bad blogger!

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Yes it’s true.  I am behind.  But since I was rudely interrupted at my tasting of Titus Vineyard’s delicious wines by a phone call telling me my presense was no longer required at my day job, I have been distracted! I realize I have to catch up on my tasting notes, so next week please look for: Review of Titus Vineyards deliciousness Review of Sparkling Shiraz tasting at The Jug Shop That being said, I interrupt my wine blogging to remind everyone that this weekend is the Silver Pass Weekend Cellar Sale November 8&9 2008 11:00am – 4:00pm Tickets: Day of the event $60.00 weekend, $40.00 per day Passes may be purchased online or at any participating winery the day of the event. Participating Wineries: Atalon Winery ♦ Bighorn Cellars ♦ Black Stallion Winery ♦ Calistoga Cellars Conn Creek ♦ Hagafen Cellars ♦ Judd’s Hill Winery ♦ Midsummer Cellars Monticello Vineyards ♦ Piña Cellars ♦ Robinson Family Winery ♦ RustRidge Winery Signorello Vineyards ♦ Summit Lake Vineyards ♦ Titus Vineyards ♦William Hill Winery ♦Zahtila Vineyards Proceeds from all Silver Pass sales will be donated to the Child Development Centers of the Napa County School District   Google